April 29, 2021

Novo Seeds co-leads Adcendo’s EUR 51 Million Series A Financing to Advance Novel Antibody-Drug Conjugates for Treatment of Cancers

  • Financing is the largest Series A for a Danish biotech company

  • Novo Seeds played instrumental role in supporting Adcendo from inception

  • Plans to build a pipeline of ADCs directed at novel cancer targets

Copenhagen, Denmark, 29 April 2021 – Novo Seeds, the early stage investment and company creation team of Novo Holdings, announced today an investment in Adcendo, a Danish biotech company which is developing antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) for the treatment of cancers. The EUR 51 million (US$ 62 million) Series A financing was led by Novo Seeds and Ysios Capital, along with RA Capital Management, HealthCap and Gilde Healthcare.

The new financing, which is the largest Series A financing for a Danish biotech company, will be used to establish a pipeline of ADCs directed at novel cancer targets and to bring the lead program targeting the novel cancer target uPARAP/Endo180 to proof of concept in patients.

The company has been supported by Novo Seeds since 2017 and was incubated in 2018 at the BioInnovation Institute (BII), an international life sciences incubator in Copenhagen. Novo Seeds supported the company amongst others through leveraging its network in industry and academia to recruit world-renowned experts to the company’s Scientific Advisory Board. As part of the financing, Jeroen Bakker, Principal at Novo Seeds, will join the Board.

Commenting on the financing, Henrik Stage, Chief Executive Officer of Adcendo, said: “We are very pleased to welcome world-leading life sciences investor Novo Seeds to our board as a result of today’s financing and in recognition of its involvement in the company since inception. In the last few years, the ADC modality has delivered promising approvals of new drugs as well as significant commercial transactions. We are excited that we have secured this major financing from top tier investors and are looking forward to delivering on our vision of bringing new innovative treatments to cancer patients.”

Jeroen Bakker, Principal at Novo Seeds, commented: “One of our ambitions at Novo Seeds is to leverage and nurture the untapped innovation in the Nordic region. We are proud to have been involved with Adcendo since its early days and are very impressed with the progress achieved to date. We are very pleased to now co-lead this investment with such an exceptional syndicate, building on the founders’ early-stage research at The Finsen Laboratory to develop Adcendo into a world leading ADC player, and we look forward to continuing playing a prominent role in shaping the Nordic biotech ecosystem.”

uPARAP is a unique novel cancer target overexpressed on the cell surface of several cancers. Being a collagen scavenger receptor that possesses constitutively active and highly efficient internalization and recycling properties, it has been demonstrated to play a role in tumor invasion. The expression and biological mechanisms of uPARAP makes it ideal for an ADC approach as it may be used as a cancer-associated “drug internalization pump” to bring conjugated drugs directly into the cancer cells.

The uPARAP collagen scavenger receptor has been found to be overexpressed by cancer cells in several indications with high unmet needs including soft tissue sarcoma, glioblastoma multiforme, triple-negative breast cancers, leukemia and osteosarcoma, as well as by stromal cells in several high prevalence cancers with substantial stromal tissue content, such as prostate, breast and pancreatic cancer.

In addition to the uPARAP program, Adcendo will build a pipeline of additional novel cancer targets ideally suited to ADC approaches.

About Adcendo ApSAdcendo ApS, a spin-out from the University of Copenhagen and Rigshospitalet and previously part of the BioInnovation Institute’s Creation House Program, is developing novel antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) for treatment of cancers. It was founded in 2017 by scientists Niels Behrendt, Lars Henning Engelholm and Christoffer Nielsen from The Finsen Laboratory of Rigshospitalet and the University of Copenhagen, and Henrik Stage, a biotech-entrepreneur active in several biotech companies, and previously CEO/CFO of Santaris Pharma which was acquired by Roche in 2014.

In 2018, Adcendo was awarded a pre-seed grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the owner of Novo Holdings, to help the company develop the commercial potential of its research discovery.

The scientific advisory board includes John Lambert PhD, the former CSO of ImmunoGen, Vincent de Groot PhD, Founder of the ADC company Syntarga, and Murray Yule MD, PhD, Oncologist experienced in translational oncology including ADCs.

About antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs)
ADCs are a class of highly potent biopharmaceutical drug composed of an antibody linked, via a chemical linker, to a biologically active drug or cytotoxic compound. ADCs combine the unique and very sensitive targeting capabilities of antibodies, with the potent effects of the conjugated cytotoxic drugs, allowing sensitive discrimination between healthy and cancer tissues.

About the uPARAP target
uPARAP is a cell-surface receptor involved in collagen degradation and was cloned and characterized by the scientific founders. The receptor has a restricted expression profile in healthy individuals but is highly upregulated on the tumor cells of several cancer forms, including soft-tissue sarcoma, osteosarcoma, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), triple-negative breast cancers, and certain leukemias. Additionally, uPARAP is found to be upregulated in the stromal cell compartment of several larger tumor indications, including breast-, colon- and prostate cancers. uPARAP is a recycling endocytic receptor, which mechanistically provides an extraordinarily efficient entry point into uPARAP-expressing cells. Hereby the target may be used as a cancer-associated “drug internalization pump” to bring the drug to the cancers. Adcendo is first to demonstrate targeted drug delivery via uPARAP.